Mass anti-gold protests rock Romanian Government

Triggered by a Government legislative initiative that allows extraordinary rights to Rosia Montana Gold Corp. (largely owned by Canadian group “Gabriel Resources”, massive protests have swarmed Romania’s major cities. The tailor-made law was submitted by PM Victor Ponta to the Parliament in the end of August and voting probably will take place in November.

Under the current legal regime, the Rosia Montana gold mining project faces serious legal obstacles, especially as regards its detrimental impacts on the environment. In case the law receives majority voting, the company will be allowed to proceed with forceful land expropriation at rates decided 

Criticising the Romanian government’s tailor-made law-making that favours specific investment plans, Magor Csibi, WWF’s Country Manager for Romania stated that "[t]here should not be any special law for some companies, there should not be special laws for some investments and we consider that we are at a turning point where we have to decide where this country must go."

Numbed by the massive public reaction, PM Ponta expressed concerns that the draft law will be rejected by the Parliament. Following this statement, 33 miners at Roasia Montana went on an underground strike, in protest against the possibility of losing their jobs. The strike came to an end, after PM Ponta visited the site and promised a parliamentary inquiry, before the voting procedure begins.

The proposed mining plan will destroy four mountain peaks and three villages. The greatest environmental impact however is the use of an approximate annual 12,000 tons of cyanide, a toxic chemical needed for the mining process. Memories of the 2000 massive transboundary Tisza River contamination with cyanide, one of Europe’s greatest environmental disasters, from gold mining operations designed as “zero discharge” are still fresh.

Sources: The Guardian, Financial Times

back to top